Two University of Iowa College of Law students have accepted judicial clerkships with the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the appellate court with exclusive jurisdiction over appeals involving patent law. During the 2015-2016 term, Andrew Schrader will clerk for The Honorable William C. Bryson and Michelle Wallace will clerk for The Honorable Raymond C. Clevenger, III.

Schrader and Wallace, both 3Ls, followed similar paths to their positions, beginning with their decisions to submit applications earlier this summer, which is later than customary. Schrader pointed out this is not a best practice. “It’s never too early to apply,” he said, “Students interested in clerkships should really start applying during the 2L year.”

Given their interests in patent law, both students focused their applications on the Federal Circuit, sending an application to each judge at the court. Once Schrader and Wallace submitted applications the next steps happened quickly. Wallace received an email on a Thursday inviting her to meet with Judge Clevenger the following Monday. At the conclusion of their meeting, Clevenger offered her the position. Meanwhile, Schrader interviewed with Judge Bryson and received an offer less than two weeks after initially mailing the clerkship application.

Wallace attributed the speed and success of her application in part to her participation in the law school’s IP Advocacy program. Wallace competed in and won a national IP law moot court competition last year where members of the Federal Circuit participated as judges. “My moot court experience was key,” she observed, “I think it helped get my application pulled out of the pile.”

For Schrader, recommendations from his professors were important.  Due to the high level of faculty engagement with students at the law school, he was able to interact closely with his professors: a key element for obtaining high quality and detailed recommendations. 

Schrader, who spent his summers between school years working at Steptoe & Johnson in Chicago and Fish & Richardson in Silicon Valley, encouraged students interested in clerking to talk to students and professors that have recently gone through the clerkship application process. “The more recently someone has done it, the better they’ll be able to help you navigate it,” he said.

Wallace, who attended Iowa Law’s study abroad program in France and worked at the in-house IP law group of Kemin Industries in Des Moines during her first summer and at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren in Milwaukee during the second, advised students to cast a broad net when applying for clerkships. “Don’t be afraid to apply for the one you think is a long shot. The worst they can say is no,” she said, with the caveat that if a judge offers you a clerkship, you must accept.

 “This is a terrific accomplishment for Andy and Michelle. They have both worked really hard and I know they will do great work,” said Professor Christina Bohannan, who worked with Schrader and Wallace in the IP Advocacy program.

--Jay Stirling | December 12, 2014